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South America Is Now the Epicenter of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic

May 23, 2020 (EIRNS)—Speaking yesterday from Geneva, Dr. Mike Ryan, the Irish epidemiologist who heads the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, described South America as the “new epicenter” of the global coronavirus pandemic.

This reality is largely driven by the out-of-control situation in Brazil, followed by worsening situations in Chile and Peru.

“There is great concern about the situation in those countries, but clearly the worst affected at the moment in Brazil,” Ryan stressed. The total number of cases in Brazil now stands at 330,890, with more than 20,000 deaths; on May 22 alone, 20,803 new cases were announced. President Jair Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 response has been described as “euthanasia”.

Peru has the next-highest number of cases in the region after Brazil, with 111,698 cases and 3,100 deaths. Yesterday alone, 124 new cases were announced. The situation is such that the Medical College of Peru is calling for the existing quarantine, in effect for 70 days, to be extended for another two months. The nation’s health-care system is overwhelmed.

In just the last 24 hours, Chile announced 4,276 new cases, bringing its national total to 65,393, and a total of 630 deaths. In the capital Santiago, the country’s epicenter, which is now in total lockdown, 90% of intensive-care beds were in use last week. In the city’s main cemetery, 1,000 emergency graves have been dug in expectation of mass deaths, according to MarketWatch.

Despite a strict lockdown in Argentina, the number of cases in the capital city of Buenos Aires and the surrounding province is increasing quickly, especially in poorer sectors and slums in which it is more difficult to enforce social distancing and other controls. President Alberto Fernández is expected to extend the current guarantee for at least another two weeks.

Mexico also is a cause for concern. The highest single-day rate of coronavirus deaths was reported yesterday, with 479 deaths and 2,960 new cases, according to Health Ministry statistics. Total cases number 62,527, but there is suspicion that the number is higher, as some whose deaths were described as the result of “atypical pneumonia” are suspected to have died of COVID-19.

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